AB InBev’s subsidiary in Brazil, Ambev SA, reported to have opened in September its first own can factory in Brazil to satisfy the increased demand for beverages in cans due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The new factory is located in Sete Lagoas, 75 km north-west of Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais and has a production capacity of 1.5 billion cans per year.
Built in an area of 45 thousand square meters, the investment totaledBRL 700 million (USD 123m) and will create about 350 direct jobs. The plant houses two production lines for cans and one line for lids. It will operate with 100% renewable energy and all the aluminum used in the factory's production is sourced in Brazil, 75% of which is recycled. Brazil has one of the highest recycling rates in the world, with 97.3%.
The company said demand for canned beverages has grown exponentially during the pandemic, outpacing demand for small-sized glass bottles. “A year ago, when we started building this new unit, we wanted to increase our capacity. It was a project looking at the long term. As soon as we saw the high demand for cans, we accelerated the works to be able to meet this growing demand”, said Mauricio Soufen, Ambev's vice president for manufacturing.
In 2019, cans represented 32% of the beer market in Brazil. The domestic can industry operated last year four production sites and produced 29.6 billion units which was a growth of 13.7% according to the Brazilian Association of Aluminum Can Producers (Abralatas). This year, the increased home consumption of beer is expected to increasethe proportion of cans in total beer consumption to more than 50%.